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Montrealers growing weary over delays in delivery of federal government services

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WATCH: Some Montreal seniors saw their Guaranteed Income Supplement cheques cut with short notice due to changes in claim forms, as Global News reported last week. Immigrants to Montreal are decrying waits of more than a year for work permits, and delays at passport offices have been causing big headaches. As Global’s Phil Carpenter reports, frustration is growing over federal government failures to deliver key services. – Aug 8, 2022

Global News reported a week ago about a recent interruption of Guaranteed Income Supplement payments to seniors.

Now, more community workers are speaking out about delays and problems in other federal government departments, and some experts believe it could take some time before some of the problems are resolved.

Read more: Montreal seniors worried about making ends meet after federal benefit abruptly ends

Franz André, a co-ordinator with Comite d’action des Personnes sans status, a refugee support group, noted that with the volume of people arriving since last fall, he’s seeing more delays in services to them.

“Prior to reopening the border already there were delays,” explained André, “and I have people that applied September of last year, 2021, and they’re still waiting to get their work permit.”

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According to André, some people arriving now could easily wait until 2024 before they get a work permit and until they do, they have to rely on welfare to make ends meet.

He believes government workers are having a hard time keeping up.

“The amount of people (arriving) is greater than before,” he pointed out, “and I think currently they’re very short-handed.”

He also blames the application process for asylum seekers which he thinks could be more efficient.

Immigration lawyer Emile Barakat says his clients are experiencing delays too because he thinks Immigration Canada is having trouble coping.

“They have a backlog, but everyday they keep getting more and more applications,” he said.  “This is why Immigration should seriously consider hiring a lot of people.”

Read more: Montreal seniors home residents launch legal battle against building owner

Though he blames the government departments for how they’ve handled some of the problems, he said he’s sympathetic.

“I understand people’s frustration but you have to understand that we just went through a once-in-a-100-year pandemic,” he stressed.

Peter Graefe, political science associate professor at McMaster University in Hamilton, agrees but argues some departments planned poorly.

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He believes some problems will get fixed quickly, but some won’t.

“Things like backlogs caused by the pandemic may hang around for a while,” he told Global News via Zoom.  “I mean it’s not like the treatment was fast before the pandemic and now the line is three times longer.”

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